Barry Glassner's The Culture of Fear (1999, Revised 2010) takes a look at the way the media-government nexus creates fake monsters to distract the American public from the real beasts in their midst. Glassner argues that this is a deliberate strategy in which popular media and culture are complicit. The culture of fear, therefore, does not merely grab eyeballs: it also puts out red herrings to confuse you and me. One question that arises here is about the public's gullibility: why are we so ready to fall for the ruse? To explain this, Glassner quotes Richard Nixon:
People react to fear, not love. They don't teach that in Sunday school, but it's true.
According to Glassner, canny politicians manipulate for their own ends the human tendency to band together when facing fear. Cultural shrewdness especially plays a part in the creation of the "other." Sometimes this dreaded "other" is "Arabs," sometimes it's African Americans, and sometimes it's "inner-city kids." The threat posed by the other...
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